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Samson Occom, journal, 1777 September 13-26

ms-number: 777513

abstract: Occom records his travels as an itinerant preacher in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

handwriting: Occom's handwriting is mostly clear and legible.

paper: Two small sheets folded into a booklet are in fair condition, with moderate staining and wear.

ink: Brown ink is faded.

noteworthy: On two recto, in the entry for Monday the 22nd, "Asphos" refers to Samuel and Robert Aspho. If Occom's intention regarding a person or place name is uncertain, it has been left untagged. An editor, likely 19th-century, has added several notes and overwritten large portions of the text. These edits have not been transcribed.

Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.

September 13: 1777

Beriah Willis at Gui[illegible][guess: lf]
Comer Smith
Left home and reached Volentown
lodged with Mr. John Gordon
preached at the place all Day

[illegible][guess: 15:] Monday

went a little way east
and preached, after meeting
went on eastward, arrived to
Scituate, put up at one Mr.
Samuel Angell
's a Preacher.
Presently after I got there a
number of People Came together
and I gave them a word of exhortation

16: Tuesday

had another meeting

17: Wednesday

went to Gloucester 8 miles
and preached in Elder Winser's
meeting house, after meeting
went house with Deacon Brown
and Lodged there —

18: Thursday

went back to [gap: faded][guess: Scituate]
and there met Mr. Kelley [gap: faded][guess: Samuel and Robert]
Ashpo at one Mr. Modburys and
and had meeting there Samuel Ashpo
Spoke — had another meeting in
the Same house in the evening, I
went home with Mr. Abraham Angell
and there lodged, —

19: Friday

went to Johnson Mr.
Samuel Angel
went with me, preached
in the meeting house, in the evening
preached again, in a private house
lodged at Esq. Balknap's my
old Friend, —

20: Saturday

morning went on
my way towards the East Esq.
went with me, we stopped
at one Esq. Mantans and we
took our Breakfast, after breakfast
went on and called on Widow Pain
from Long Island, the Esq. left
me at Providence, I kept on
Eastward, got to Mr. John Allens
about 2 in the afternoon in
Rehoboth, dined there Soon after
Dinner went to Mr. Pecks [illegible][guess: and]
supper at minister of the place
and there lodged —

21: Sabbath

preached in Mr. Pecks
meeting house all Day, — went
Home with Deacon Blanding
had meeting there and lodged —

22: Monday

went towards Bridge
wat[illegible][guess: t]er
Deacon Blanding went with
me about 3 miles and Saw
Kelley And Ashpos again
after Dinner went on my way
towards Bridgewater: got to
Tanton, and there stopped at
Mr. Hoskins a separate Preacher
and lodged there. —

23 Tuesday

went to meeting at the
place heard one Mr. Willis a Baptist
preacher, after he had Spoke I
gave a word of Exhortation, and
then went home with Mr. Hoskins
and Tarried there all Day, and
in the Evening had a meeting
at the Same house, Lodged
there again —

24: Wednesday

went off early in
the morning and stopped Mr. Deans
and a meeting there, in the after
noon went into Town and had another
meeting there in the house, about
sunset took Tea with Mrs. McWa
lodged where Mr. Jones
Boarded, a Young Preacher, —

25 Thursday

got up very early
and went on towards Freetown
Stop at Mr. Tobe's in Bartly and
took breakfast there, Soon after
went on, arrived to Freetown
about 11: called on Mr. Walcut
a Young Preacher was there
a Little while and went on a
gain Mr. Walcut went with me
to the Indian Place got there
sometime before sunset I
lodged at Daniel wards the
principle Indian in the Place

26 Friday

about 10 in the Morn
had a meeting and there was a
Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

Ashpo, Samuel

Ashpo was born into a very powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and became an influential Mohegan preacher. He was converted at Mohegan during the Great Awakening, and became a schoolteacher among the Indians at Mushantuxet from 1753 until 1757 and from 1759 until 1762, when he left to attend Moor's. Between 1757 and 1759, he worked as an interpreter, and supposedly struggled with alcohol. He attended Moor's for only six months, and then continued his teaching and missionary career on successive trips to Chenango (the first was cut short because of violence in the region). On July 1, 1767, the Connecticut Board dismissed him from their service because of further charges of drinking. He continued to preach successfully to various New England Indian tribes until his death in 1795. The variations of his name exist in part because Ashpo is an abbreviated form of Ashobapow.

Ashpo, Robert

Robert Ashpo was the brother of Samuel Ashpo, the influential Mohegan preacher. They were born into a powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and Robert became a tribal leader. We have no specific evidence of his education or conversion. But he was one of the signers of at least three important petitions that were submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly. The first, entitled "Appeal of the Mohegan Indians agst the Colony of Connecticut & Others" is dated July 23, 1746; Ashpo was one of over 80 signatories. The second was written by Occom in 1785 on behalf of five other signatories: Henry Quaquaquid and Robert Ashpo of the Mohegan Tribe and Phillip Cuish, Joseph Uppuiquiyantup, Isaac Uppuiquiyantup of the Niantics, expressing their dismay over restrictive fishing prohibitions (manuscript 785340). The third from May 14, 1789 is signed by Ashpo and Henry Quaquaquid, and using the metaphor of the "dish," complains bitterly about the loss of Mohegan territory and asks the Assembly to divide the "common dish" of the Tribe into individual dishes so each may do "as he pleases." These petitions invoke Tribal sovereignty, show collaboration between tribal leaders, and also employ the rhetoric of "improvement" to save their lands. Occom and Joseph Johnson record Ashpo's speaking and leadership at several meetings at Mohegan and elsewhere in the 1770s and 1780s. Ashpo did not move to Brothertown and remained in Mohegan.

Willis, Beriah
Gordon, John
Angell, Samuel

Unidentified Smith.

Angell, Abraham
Allen, John
Peck, Samuel

Samuel Peck was a New Light Separatist minister in Rehoboth, MA. Although he came from a prominent local family and prepared for college, he never attended. Instead, he was ordained in October 1751 by several Separatist ministers. He led a Separate congregation, which was technically classified as Baptist, in Rehoboth until his death in 1768. Occom visited him in 1777.

Ward, Daniel
HomeSamson Occom, journal, 1777 September 13-26
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